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Prince Paul
Prince Paul


At just about the same time the Beastie Boys released Licensed to Ill, Prince Paul Huston was beginning his recording career. In 1986 Paul joined Stetsasonic, and acted as the group’s sixth member and DJ. As was the case with many early hip-hop acts, the DJ would also moonlight as producer. So while the Beastie Boys were resting up after the endless Licensed to Ill tour, Paul was sharpening his production skills on Stetsasonic’s In Full Gear LP. At this point, the Beastie Boys and Prince Paul were worlds apart. Yet, when Prince Paul teamed up with 3rd Bass, the two forces would be engaged in head to head sales competition.

Not only did Paul’s Boutique have to compete with 3rd Bass’s The Cactus Album (1989), it also had to go up against De La Soul’s platinum selling 1989 masterpiece 3 Feet High And Rising. Having grown up in the same Amityville, Long Island neighborhood as Prince Paul did, it made sense that De La Soul’s Kelvin Mercer, David Jolicoeur, and Vincent Mason, Jr. would have Paul produce their 1989 album. On 3 Feet High And Rising, Prince Paul used nearly the same sampling technique that the Dust Brothers had used on Paul’s Boutique. Whereas the Dust Brothers were using samples extracted from previously recorded pop music albums, Prince Paul went on to use samples from children's records. To this day, many Beastie Boys fan cite Three Feet High and Rising as the only album that can be considered on par with Paul’s Boutique.

After having experienced commercial success, Prince Paul decided that he could better capitalize on his talent by starting his own label. The thought may have been, "Why make money for other labels, when I could be making money for my own label?" Things did not work out though, and Paul later aborted the deal for his label, Dew Dew Man Records. Paul's disillusionment with and distrust of record industry drove him to seek out groups and projects that were more compatible with his own musical visions. The Beastie Boys’ song "Root Down" which paid homage to New York’s old school hip-hop scene fit that bill exactly. Thus, on the 1995 Root Down EP you can find the long overdue Prince Paul Balloon Remix. Also on the Beastie Boys Video Anthology DVD, one may select "Prince Paul’s Balloon Remix" as the backing track to the "Root Down" music video. Either way, you have the two rap legends reunited as collaborators not as competitors.

Ricky Powell Prisoners of Technology